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The Wall, the Window and the Alcove: Visualizing Privacy

Surveillance & Society, 2011, Vol.9(1/2), pp.203-214 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    The Wall, the Window and the Alcove: Visualizing Privacy
  • Author: Liu, Catherine
  • Found In: Surveillance & Society, 2011, Vol.9(1/2), pp.203-214 [Peer Reviewed Journal]
  • Subjects: Architecture ; Sovereignty ; Permeability ; Privacy ; Boundaries ; Capitalism ; Liberalism ; Democracy
  • Language: English
  • Description: This paper presents a theoretical/historical genealogy of the cluster of concepts that form contemporary notions of privacy and private life. My intention is to present a broad rather than deep historical overview. The paper juxtaposes a series of images and ideas, "wall, window and alcove" that are meant to clarify the terms we use when discussing privacy/private life. It is an attempt to defend a commitment to autonomy and freedom as values linked to the private/public dialectic. Private life represents a set of highly plastic historical and phenomenological problems for humanists, historians, social scientists, architects, designers as well as policy and lawmakers. The concepts of privacy and private life in different cultures across space and time are distinguished by profound variations: but the problems presented by the ideal of an autonomous subject, the realities of the modern state and the rise of highly mobile, data gathering technologies developed by the "private sector" create similar challenges for the evolving ideas of democracies, transparency and communication. This paper tries to clarify the historical and conceptual significance of private/public confusion in consumer driven, post-War US culture. [PUBLICATION ]
  • Identifier: ISSN: 14777487 ; DOI: 10.24908/ss.v9i1/2.4101

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